To see: landscape & special place
The secrets of Marmore Falls
Everyone knows that with a total of 165 meters it is the highest artificial waterfall in Europe.
Do you know any other numbers?
83 meters the height of the highest jump.
About 1,200 hours open every year.
In just 5 minutes of opening time the water jet of 120 litres per second reaches the maximum flow of 16 thousand litres per second!
About 500 thousand visitors every year, 2 entrances, 5 paths, 3 viewpoints!
The nature surrounding the waterfall is definitely lush, the extraordinary biological wealth is recognized in Europe as a Special Protection Zone.
There are primitive plant forms such as blue and green algae, mosses, lichens, numerous aquatic and terrestrial plants such as ferns.
The zoological species are of the most varied: insects, amphibians, fish, reptiles, small mammals and birds.
Birdwatchers can observe rare or unique species in Italy such as the Blackbird and the Yellow Dancer that feed along the banks of the Black Sea, the winter migrations of the Kingfisher, the Mountain Swallow and the Lonely Sparrow that nest in the bare rock faces.
The most incredible and least known natural aspect, however, is the underground one.
In the upper viewpoint there is the plateau of the "Campacci di Marmore" formed by the waters of the Velino that stagnated in the area until 271 BC.
In the belly of these rocks, a porous mixture of travertine, have formed natural caves very suggestive.
Going inside the mountain it is possible to read the geological history of the area: a great variety of plant fossils, slender coralliform filigrees and powerful stalactite and columnar structures, distributed in an irregular alternation of tunnels and galleries where light filters creating incredible games.
An unusual and adventurous speleological excursion.
The Waterfall is an extraordinary work of architecture dating back to 271 B.C. when the Roman Consul, Manio Curio Dentato, ordered the reclamation of the Rieti valley of Velino, an area of marshes impossible to live.
Through the construction of artificial canals the course of the river was diverted towards the river Nera, among the many protests of the inhabitants of Terni who feared flooding due to the enormous mass of water.
To collect the water and divert its flow, over the centuries, several canals were built (Cava Curiana, Cavo Reatino or Gragoriano, Cava Paolina, Cava Clementina).
Few, however, know that the canals required continuous maintenance and that the power of the water caused flooding and disasters in Valnerina.
Only in 1787 the floods stopped. At the behest of Pope Pius VI, the architect and engineer Andrea Vici was called upon to create the Pio Canal, intervening directly on the leaps, giving the Waterfall its present appearance: 3 leaps, a regular flow of water and an evocative power!
The legend of the Marmore Waterfalls sees as protagonist the beautiful black nymph who fell madly in love with the shepherd Velino, however, arousing the jealousy of Juno.
The Goddess, for revenge, transformed Nera into a river: it was in that coment that the lover, determined to follow her at all costs, threw himself from the cliff of Marmore forming the great leap that we can admire at the Marmore Falls.
Few, instead, know the legend of the "gnefro" the elf or gnome that, in the popular culture of the city of Terni populates the Valnerina.
The gnefro is a creature of small stature (less than one meter) that lives in groups, together with other elves, near the Marmore Falls near the waters of the river.
The goblin is endowed with small magical powers that he uses to make tricks and spite but without particularly harming.
The gnefro comes out mainly at night and has fun scaring the wayfarers: sometimes he appears as a cute little boy, sometimes as a terrible wrinkled gnome!
For some people the gnephron is a real good luck charm to keep at home!
The Waterfall has always attracted tourists and visitors and among the many are true personalities. Pliny, Cicero, Popes, Galilei, Vittorio Alfieri, Ferdinand II, the Queen Mother of Naples, Gioacchino Belli, Lord Byron and, as recently stated, Leonardo Da Vinci who represented the Waterfall and the town of Papigno in the painting "Landscape with river" of 1473, preserved in Florence.
Suffice it to say that in the 18th and 19th centuries the Marmore Falls was a must on the Grand Tour to Rome.
Few people know instead that, between the 18th and 19th centuries, the Waterfall became a favourite destination for an incredible number of European painters belonging to the "Plenarist" movement.
The "en plen air" painters loved to paint landscapes from life, in the open air, long before the advent of photography.
Among them Turner, Corot, Courbet, Granet, Bidauld, Verstappen, Blechen, Palm, whose works can be found today in many museums around the world.
To admire the paintings "live" a diffuse Museum of the Plenarists has been created.
DISCOVER MARMORE FALLS WITH OUR TRAVEL PROPOSAL:
Active Weekend in Umbria
Relax and fut at Piediluco Lake
Food journey: discover black truffles in Valnerina
In the Saint Valentine's Land
Traveller...looking for Neverland!